Philadelphia Waterdogs Roster Breakdown: Chemistry mixed with playmakers create a dangerous attack unit
The smaller lacrosse field in the PLL and the shot clock on offense give the…
The Waterdogs implemented a revolutionary tactic during the 2023 season.
A faceoff specialist, or FOGO, is rostered on every team to gain consistent possession over the opponent. The Waterdogs tossed that standard aside, thinking a faceoff specialist would only slow down their potent offense with that attacking unit and a barrage of sharpshooting midfielders.
Instead, they employ midfielder Zach Currier to battle or defender Eli Gobrecht to lose the faceoff but intentionally create absolute chaos. That wastes precious seconds as the opposition has to sub in their offensive players with the faceoff unit. Now they face a shortened shot clock, can not get into their offensive set, and usually take a poor shot or turn the ball over.
The perfect example of this strategy working to perfection was against one of the PLL’s best faceoff specialists; Connor Farrell won 98% of the faceoffs in that matchup, but the Waterdogs went up 7-1 at halftime.
While reigning MVP Tom Schreiber holds the title of “best midfielder,” Zach Currier is the most important to his team. He can do everything: score a key goal, find the next man for an assist in transition, cause turnovers, scoop up ground balls, and, in his new role, faceoffs.
Currier hails from the same town as Ethan Walker, Peterborough, Ontario, and attended the same high school, The Culver Military Academy. The gritty midfielder attended Princeton and finished second all-time in groundballs for the Tigers with 302 ground balls.
The Denver Outlaws, the PLL’s newest expansion team, traded up to draft Zach Currier with the 6th overall pick in the 2017 MLL Draft. He made three straight All-Star games and a championship with the Outlaws in 2018.
In the PLL’s 2020 Entry Draft, the Waterdogs took the do-it-all midfielder with the first pick, and it’s safe to say he’s lived up to the expectations and then some. Last season, Zach Currier went 58.6% at the faceoff X, going up against guys whose sole job is to win that battle. He also tallied 14 points and 50 ground balls, 6th in the PLL and 1st among players that aren’t exclusively faceoff specialists.
Connor Kelly’s creativity, vision, versatility, and being one of the best shooters in lacrosse make him another key cog to the Waterdogs’ deep offense. The righty attackmen attended Maryland, the Alabama/Georgia of football to the PLL, and earned the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2018.
The Whipsnakes chose Kelly in 2019 as he helped contribute to the inaugural PLL Championship. In the Waterdogs’ expansion, they did not hesitate to snag a bonified offensive weapon with the first pick in the 2020 Expansion Draft.
The former Terp sprints out of the box with the intent to get the offense going, and his athleticism allows him to create space with dodges, mainly his patented rollback. Kelly’s shooting also is a thing to behold. No player has more 2-point goals than Connor Kelly since the PLL started.
The Maryland product proved his offensive capabilities by playing near his hometown in Connecticut and single-handedly leading the Waterdogs to a comeback. Kelly scored three two-point goals, two single goals, and three assists, totaling 9 points.
Down seven goals heading into halftime, Connor put the offense on his back and won the game on a transition goal with 10 seconds left. It was his second game-winning goal in three weeks last year.
The Waterdogs’ second-round selection in the 2022 College Entry Draft became even more critical after trading their first-round pick along with attackman Wes Berg for Chaos goalie Dillon Ward. They went with shooter Jack Hannah out of Denver and a former teammate of Ethan Walker.
During Denver’s 2020 season, head coach Jack Tierney noted to Walker, “Jack is a great player, but sometimes gets in his head a little bit. Can you talk to him for me?” Without hesitation, Walker approached Hannah, who sits in the box before every game, and gave him a quick hype speech: “Let’s go, let’s get this one, let’s have some fun,” Walker said. Then, they dapped each other, hugged, and walked out onto the field. Even before games now, Walker and Hannah share the same ritual on the sideline.
They’ve become close friends ever since, and you can imagine their shared joy when the Waterdogs selected Jack Hannah to join his old college teammate. Despite their bond, their play could not be more different, which adds to the complementary style they share on the field.
Ethan Walker is a powerful and accurate shooter, while Hannah is a slick dodger who loves to launch two-point shots. He tied for 7th in two-point goals (3) on five attempts. All three attackmen ended with over 30 points in 2023, and Jack Hannah finished fourth with 19 points while missing three games due to injury.
In the PLL’s first-ever “off-season,” players could change teams and make deals based on their terms. Jake Carraway jumped at the opportunity to join Waterdogs, who added another sharpshooter to their midfield unit.
Carraway graduated Georgetown as their 6th all-time scorer with 195 career goals and was drafted 10th overall by the Atlas in the 2021 College Draft. Initially playing attack his entire career in college and for the Atlas, Jake selflessly moved to midfield to let the Waterdogs established trio shine. With a rotating midfield unit because of their faceoff tactics, Carraway quickly established himself as a valid two-way midfielder at the next level, with Zach Currier handling several other duties rather than just offense.
#15 Ryan Conrad (6-0, 190 lbs, Age: 26)
After helping Virginia win its 6th title in 2019, the Waterdogs chose Ryan Conrad with the 16th pick in the expansion draft. Coming off that national championship run as the captain, Conrad graduated 6th all-time in assists by a midfielder with 35, and his 18 that season tied for fourth in Virginia history among midfielders. He was the only player in the NCAA with over 13 points and 70+ groundballs.
In 2022 with the Waterdogs, Conrad ripped 17 goals in 11 games but shot under 30% the following season. Head coach Andy Copeland gave him a considerable vote of confidence by continuing to play him and deflecting critics saying he believes in Conrad and that he’ll turn it around. The powerful dodger started this season with zero points, but the support of Copeland helped him finish with 12 points against eight games. A fun fact about Ryan Conrad: he ate Chipotle every day for three years in high school.
The Waterdogs returned to Canada and Virginia Pot with their first-round pick in last year’s College Draft. Thomas McConvey grew up near Toronto and committed to Vermont, where he scored or assisted on a goal in every game he played for the Catamounts and set the school’s single-season goal record with 60 netted in 2022.
McConvey then transferred to Virginia for his graduate season and scored a hat trick while dishing out two assists in his first game for the Cavaliers. Another powerhouse midfielder with sharp shooting abilities, McConvey, started his PLL journey a bit slow for the 8th overall pick.
While playing on the second midfield unit, McConvey tallied six points in his rookie season. However, it feels like he has not yet unlocked his full potential. With his size and speed, defenders will think twice before sliding to the power forward, who can also create shooting angles with his frame.
The lefty from Strath Haven went undrafted but joined his college teammate Thomas McConvey to play for Andy Copeland and the Waterdogs. It’s no secret that the Waterdogs build their squad through versatility, and Jeff Connor is no different. While he doesn’t have the offensive prowess that McConvey does, he defines a Waterdog draft pick.
While at Vermont and Virginia, he attended the offensive meetings and always made it to the defensive meetings, where he excelled. He even sat in on the faceoff specialist meeting as a potential wing. In his limited action last year, he scored two goals and two assists with zero turnovers. Copeland moved Connor to the starting roster instead of Ryan Conrad one week.
“I just thought Jeff Conner deserved to be in the lineup,” Copelan said. “He’s a great athlete who plays with no ego, and I just wanted to see a larger sample size there.”
It’s impossible not to root for Mikie Schlosser. From the incredible mustache to the lacrosse hair you read about, Mikie is a straight-up grinder. The California kid started playing lacrosse in high school and worked his way to rank as the 26th-ranked midfielder via Inside Lacrosse. The one word several coaches and players use to describe Schlosser is leader.
At Davis Senior High School, he was named captain as a sophomore and took his talents to the opposite of California, The University of Michigan. As a Wolverine, he became the first player named captain as an underclassman. Schlosser’s enthusiasm to pick up ground balls is remarkable, and he finished third on the team in goals (15) and points (20) as a sophomore.
The Waterdogs grabbed Mikie Schlosser from the Denver Outlaws with the 12th pick in the 2021 PLL Entry Draft. In his first season, Schlosser finished second on the team in goals with 14 (one two-pointer), with only Ryan Brown totaling more. He’s an agile, down-the-alley dodger, and if his hands are free, he’s letting that ball fly to a corner. Mikie is one of the best shoot-on-the-run midfielders in the PLL, shooting 10-28 (36%) on unassisted goals in 2021.
Unfortunately for the Waterdogs, during their magical 2022 championship run, Schlosser tore his ACL in the semi-final game and missed the entire 2023 season. Even when he’s not on the field, Mikie’s presence in the Waterdogs’ locker room is vital because he is the glue guy for this team.